Samuel Wanjiru: Disturbing Questions

Published on 20th June 2011

The late Samuel Wanjiru                            Photo courtesy
The Olympic hero’s mysterious demise brings to the fore serious questions about the status of our security and our justice system. It also puts a red flag on the way the government treats our heroes and the esteem it accords human life in general.

Here was an athlete who raised the status of our Country in the international scene and many of us not directly related to him are still in shock the way his life ended prematurely.

The late Wanjiru’s mysterious demise didn’t ignite our law enforcement or intelligence unit to pursue concrete and thorough investigations. There was no government statement especially when it appeared that the investigations were not being done effectively after the tragedy. The police commissioner and the Minister for internal security all remained mute.

The late Wanjiru’s fans, admirers  and a section of his family at home and abroad beg for this question: Why did the government treat his mysterious dead so casually?  Can you imagine how Kenya and Africa felt when he raised our flag in Beijing; kissed the ground and made the sign of the cross after winning the medal? And now, he is not with us; gone forever and not to come again. We can’t tell which generation another Wanjiru replica will emerge. Only God knows.

When a Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt visited Kenyan in 2009, he was accorded iconic status by President Mwai Kibaki, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but when our own icon dies mysteriously, there is no show of empathy or concern to unravel the truth. This is extremely demoralizing to the athletic fraternity in the Country and a show that we don’t care about our own heroes who have elevated Kenya in the international scene.

Our nation keeps being dogged by tragedy after tragedy. Criminals continue to terrorize people in towns and villages. Suspects are being lynched in cold blood before the eyes of the police. People die on preventable road accidents when we have the police traffic unit. Women and children are raped, molested or sodomized but we only see highlights in the media but nothing is done to pursue the culprits to bring them to justice.

When problems keep escalating rather than de-escalating in any society, it reflects that nothing is being done by the responsible parties to curb them or put in place contingency measures. We have the laws, the law enforcers and the courts in Kenya, but these vital organs are not doing enough to safeguard justice and protect the lives of Kenyans and their properties.

While growing up in 1980s, I used to hear the notion that the prowess of Kenya’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was one of the best in the world. I have since disapproved this notion as mere fiction. In Kenya today, investigations are either conducted inconclusively or unprofessionally or not conducted at all.  From the crime scene, handling suspects to court appearances, it does not reflect us as a nation ready to instill proper justice to the populace.

I vehemently disagreed with Justice Emukule’s ruling that allowed a section of the late Wanjiru’s family to proceed with the burial when his mother Ms Hannah Wanjiru had raised pertinent questions following the tragedy. She was right by requesting for thorough investigations to unravel the cause of his son’s dead but the judge threw her argument through the window. I personally concluded that the tragedy may have been well planned and coordinated. I’m sure justice Emukule would have demanded exactly what Hannah Wanjiru wanted if the late Wanjiru was his son. 

The athlete’s mother was not demanding the restoration of her son back to life but know the truth in order to begin the healing process.  Nobody should underrate parenthood. I know my wife loves me but my mother’s love is only second to that of God.  A British tycoon whose daughter was killed in 1988 at the Maasai Mara has never given up his quest to know his daughter’s killers. John Ward has exhausted his financial resources not bring her daughter to life but seek for justice. That is why I strongly empathize with Hanna Wanjiru.

A sure way to gauge the greatness of any nation is how it responds to a calamity whether big or small. In the Western world, where I reside, when a tragedy occurs; big or small, there is a swift move by concerned parties to conduct thorough investigations and put in place preventive measures.

I believe Kenya can do better. I believe the government can boost the morale of our police force through better remuneration, equip them with enough tools of work. A strict code of conduct should also be formulated and the law enforcement personnel who violate it should be punished severely or relieved off their duties. We want to have swift response from the law enforcement when you report a crime. We don’t want our police to ask members of the public to fuel their cars when they call for help.

Kenya should forge partnerships with the developed World in this era of global insecurity, to help train our security personnel. The government should approach Britain, USA and Israel in order to tap the skills of the FBI, the Scotland Yard and the Mossad respectively. We have to take advantage of what our friends are doing to better our own systems to better serve our nation.

I believe all is not lost in our country. Whether it is the late Samuel Wanjiru, Dr. Robert Ouko, Solomon Muruli, JM Kariuki, or Oscar Kingara, Llfe is sacred and those tasked to protect it must do it effectively.

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo

New Jersey, USA.

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